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December 21, 2011
Recommend for kindle version - http://amzn.to/toHzA9
For those who are truly crazy about making and playing in flower gardens, this Gertrude Jekyll book is one of the best. It's not a practical how-to book. Few gardeners will share the climate she was writing about, or have her enviable resources, like a tidy trust fund, 10 acres and a small staff of gardeners. Ms. Jekyll was the most famous garden writer of her day, producing many books in addition to writing articles and designing a lot of high-end residential flower gardens.
This book is a fascinating and surprisingly relevant record of how she contrived her own flower gardens a hundred years ago. There are detailed planting plans of her gardens, drawn by her, and also some fantasy garden designs. In addition to the classic flower border (which she had a strong hand in inventing) there are designs for bulb and annual flower gardens, and many, many other ideas for landscaping. If you think the gardens of an elderly lady in England a hundred years ago would be filled with washed-out colors and fussy ornaments, you are in for a huge surprise.
Like Russell Page's 'The Education of a Gardener', this is the chance to get inside the mind of a great artist: how they think, how they see, and how they tranlate their insights into garden design. As originally published (with plan drawings and photos by Ms. Jekyll) her original is an all time classic.
I'm not completely enthusiastic about this edition. Some plant names are updated (fine), many color pictures are added (nice pics, but none of Ms. Jekyll's gardens), modern watercolors of plants mentioned in the copy are scattered about (OK, but more decoration than education) and a few additional Jekyll designs not included in the original book were added (very nice).
Negatively, they edit her plan drawings a bit, coloring them in, and removing the original scale marking, so you can't tell how big the beds are. The coloring will help those not super-familiar with plant names to get the jist of the designs. They have also removed some of her original B&W photos. That's not good. I'm sorry I lent my original version to someone and lost it.